3 Tips to Prepare for Your Career While Still in College

If you are a college student eager to start working in an industry you’re excited about, but you don’t know how to get your foot in the door, there are few key steps you must take to immerse yourself in "the real world.” College is great, don’t get me wrong; but some people cannot wait to get out and start building their careers. I, for one, learn the most through experiences and interactions in which I connect with people. Simulations in class and group projects will never be the same as what you might learn while trying to apply your skills to solve a real problem at work.  Outside of choosing a relevant major, career preparation for college students isn't always obvious. Here are three tips that every eager college student should employ in order to position themselves to land their dream job:[bctt tweet="3 Tips to Prepare for Your Career While Still in College, by @arthurdoelp #careeradvice"]

  1. Research career paths of interest:

Research is incredibly important in making sure that you find an industry you are deeply interested in. Once you do identify the right career path, you can never do too much research for companies within this preferred industry. Although it can be hard to find ways to invest a lot of time into career research when you are in the midst of college, try to dedicate a few hours every couple of weeks towards learning more about the direction that you are looking for in terms of a career path. If you start researching early enough and trying to answer these questions—slowly chipping away at this throughout your time in college—you will not be as overwhelmed by the time graduation rolls around. Also, the psychological benefit of thinking about your career path and doing research is that you will be implicitly aware of new opportunities as they present themselves.[bctt tweet="You can never do too much research on industries you may be interested in, says @arthurdoelp"]

  1. Build your off-campus network:

Make personal connections with people. Often, college students do not know anyone in the industry that they are interested in. The best way to make these connections—and to do the industry research recommended above—is by looking for networking events, talking to your professors who might be connected to the industry, or finding other people to speak with who are somehow connected. One of the first things you should do—ideally at the start of college—is set up a LinkedIn account. Begin to find people in your field of interest and try reaching out to those people by messaging them with very specific (though brief) questions. Who knows, it may lead you to get a coffee chat.  To learn more about how to leverage LinkedIn to build your network and find career opportunities, check out this article: Top 8 Ways to Find a Job Using LinkedIn.

While you are in college, set yourself up for a seamless transition after graduation by gathering as much information and making as many connections as possible. This will prepare you so that, when you go to look for a job, you will know who to talk to, will have ways to connect with them, will be educated around industry topics, and will potentially have an edge-up on competing applicants.[bctt tweet="College students—prepare for your career by developing a #network, says @arthurdoelp"]

  1. Internships, internships, internships:

Internships are by far the best way for you to get involved in your preferred industry. They’re excellent for meeting people in the industry and maybe even developing connections with people who work at your dream company.

Money can be an issue for many college students, and giving up a more secure paying job to go do an internship may seem like it will not work in your favor. However, the connections that you make and the experience that you acquire while doing an internship will really help you once you finish school and start looking for work. When a potential employer sees that you have work experience in a related field prior to finishing school, you will look much more appealing as a candidate.[bctt tweet="Internships are a priceless way for college students to gain experience + perspective - @arthurdoelp"]

Internships also give you a way to test the waters to see if the company or the industry that you want to work in is a good fit for you. You may find that a role that you were very interested in on paper doesn’t live up to your expectations for it. Whether or not you enjoy your internship, it’s critical that you do your best work—these people will be references for you whether you ask them to or not. In the LinkedIn era, hiring managers often find people you’ve worked with in the past to reach out to on their own.

Even if your university is not centrally located in a city where many internship opportunities are readily accessible, there are still ways for you to get involved. Whether it is finding a club on campus that fits your interests or talking with your professors, there are many ways to do research and find opportunities in order to expand your knowledge of the industry that you want to work in. You can try doing freelance work which will help you gain experience: look into UpWork or Fiverr for paid opportunities.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to do research and test the waters of your interests while in college. The earlier you start doing your research, the earlier you might discover what you need to focus on to accomplish your goal—who you need to connect with, or if you need to pursue a different major. Career preparation for college students means opening your eyes to the opportunities and actions that you could be taking while studying in college. [bctt tweet="The earlier you explore career options, the sooner you'll find a fit you're passionate about - @arthurdoelp"]

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